General Regulations

  • LAKE PATROL officers are authorized to enforce all laws, ordinances and regulations in effect on the water of Big Bear Lake.
  • BOAT PERMITS must be properly displayed on all boats.
  • BOAT PERMITS may be suspended or revoked when the permittee, owner, or operator violate the terms and conditions of the permit, this Code or other requirements of the law.
  • BOAT SIZE REQUIREMENTS: Maximum boat length is 26 feet. Manually propelled boats less than 12 feet in length and float-tubes are required to operate between the 5 MPH buoys and the shore.
  • PADDLE BOARDS are considered a vessel and are required to meet state and local regulations.
  • PUBLIC DOCKS located at the boat launch facilities are for loading and unloading only; do not leave a boat unattended.
  • SANITATION: No refuse shall be thrown into or left on the shoreline of the lake; no oil from a bilge pump shall be allowed to discharge into the lake; no person shall deposit any type of fish, amphibian or plant into the lake.
  • VEHICLES are prohibited from driving on the lake bottom. Vehicles on District property must obey posted speed signs and operate in accordance with the Vehicle Code.
  • ANIMALS must be on a leash no more than 7 feet long while on District property.

Age Limitations

  • PERSONS 12 THROUGH 15 years of age are prohibited from operating a vessel with more than 15 horsepower unless supervised on board by a person at least 18 years of age.


  • RECKLESS OPERATION: No person shall operate a boat, waterski, or similar device in a reckless or negligent manner. The owner and or operator are responsible for any damage caused by their boat, its wake, or its tow.
  • BOATING ACCIDENTS must be reported immediately to the Lake Patrol
  • SPEED LIMIT: 35 MPH maximum; 10 MPH from sunset to 7:00a.m.; 5 MPH between buoys indicating same and the shoreline; 3 MPH in Papoose Bay, Canvasback Cove, and Mallard Lagoon.
  • SAFETY EQUIPMENT: All boats must be equipped according to California Boating Law safety requirements.
  • LAUNCHING: Boats requiring trailers may be launched only from designated launch ramps. All other boats may be carried and launched at designated recreational or public access points after obtaining a Boat Permit.
  • MOORING or tying to navigational markers is prohibited. Overnight mooring or beaching of boats along the shoreline is prohibited.

Personal Watercraft

  • Hours of Operation are between 7:00 a.m. and sunset.
  • Shall maintain a 100-foot distance from all other boats while operating above wakeless speeds.
  • Operators are prohibited from spraying down any person or vessel in the water.
  • Riders shall wear personal flotation devices.


  • HOURS OF WATERSKIING (wakeboarding, tubing, etc.) are between 7:00 a.m. and sunset.
  • AN OBSERVER at least 12 years of age is required to be on board the boat to monitor the progress of the skier.
  • A RED FLAG must be displayed whenever a skier or equipment are in the water.
  • ALL BOATS engaged in waterskiing shall maintain a counter-clockwise direction.
  • NO PERSON shall operate waterskis or similar device so as to endanger the life of any person.
  • AERIAL DEVICES are prohibited to be towed by a boat.
  • WATERSKIERS shall wear personal flotation devices.


  • FISHING is prohibited from the Dam or from within posted No Fishing areas.
  • ANGLERS 16 YEARS OR OLDER must have a current fishing license properly displayed.
  • ALL FISHING REGULATIONS are strictly enforced.


  • SWIMMING is allowed within 50 feet of the shore, withing a designated swimming area, within 20 feet of a private dock, or as incidental or necessary to waterskiing, jetskiing, sailboarding or in an emergency.
  • SCUBA DIVING is prohibited.
  • Swim at your own risk, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.

For Your Safety

  • OPERATORS should maneuver boats slowly and carefully in unfamiliar waters since fluctuating lake levels can caused unmarked natural or manmade hazards to occur.
  • TROLLING ANGLERS should display a white trolling flag to indicated to other boaters that they are trailing a line.
  • FISHING BOATS should not impede safe access for waterskiers entering or extiting a designated ski beach.
  • ALL SAILING CRAFT have the right of way over motorized boats, except in an overtaking situation.
  • SWIMMERS swim at your own risk, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY, and always swim with a partner.
  • LIGHTNING STORMS can develop quickly in the mountains and lightning frequently strikes the lake’s surface. Boaters are advised to quickly seek shelter and safety.
  • BE A SOBER BOATER – Alcohol and boating are a deadly mix.
  • ICE COVERING BIG BEAR LAKE during the winter months is extremely dangerous, unstable and deceptive. STAY OFF LAKE ICE!